1. “The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race.” Ferguson is not just about systemic racism—it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Dystopian books and movies like Snowpiercer, The Giver, Divergent, Hunger Games, and Elysium have been the rage for the past few years. Not just because they express teen frustration at authority figures. That would explain some of the popularity among younger audiences, but not among twentysomethings and even older adults. The real reason we flock to see Donald Sutherland’s porcelain portrayal in Hunger Games of a cold, ruthless president of the U.S. dedicated to preserving the rich while grinding his heel into the necks of the poor is that it rings true in a society in which the One Percent gets richer while our middle class is collapsing.”
2. “The Limits of Everything.” Charles P. Pierce comments on the events in Ferguson.
“But you won’t forgive those older folks because this is now. This is not then. We have come such a long, long way, we have. We have elected a black man president of the United States, and forget that the political opposition has treated him like an unruly footman despite his best efforts to be a conciliator, a living witness to a country absolved. But, from a distance, that is not the conclusion the honest person can draw from what is going on in Missouri now. The honest conclusion to be drawn from what is going on in Missouri now is that we may have reached the limits of the American idea, of the American dream, of the American experiment. This country, it is fair to conclude, cannot exist without some manifestation of its fundamental racial divide. Slavery, followed by Reconstruction, followed by American apartheid, followed by the Civil Rights movement, followed by Wallace and white backlash, followed by the election of Barack Obama followed by the shooting of Trayvon Martin, followed by the acquittal of George Zimmerman, followed by the strangulation of Eric Garner—where’d he go, by the way?—and the shooting of Michael Brown. Maybe we should admit it to ourselves, we of the dwindling white majority, that the racial divide is something essential to holding our idea of the country together. It may be that we cannot unify ourselves without fashioning every 50 years or so, a new suit of clothes for old Jim Crow. White people will be a minority in this country, and very soon. Maybe the racial divide is all we have left.”
3. “The 200 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far.” Every time we [Pitchfork] pause to look at the last however many years of music, things seem stranger and harder to pin down.
“The particular kind of masculinity that gets amplified by organized sporting events—the same feral, drooling aggression Bill Buford made infamous in Among the Thugs, his harrowing account of hooliganism among English soccer fans—would be an easy target for a feminist with a video camera, but Grimes is received warmly by the crowd. In that sense, it is a triumph—of perseverance, if not humanity—and it feels consistent with her mission. The subversion of expectation is a part of Grimes’s founding aesthetic, and she frequently marries more defiant genres like noise and punk with propulsive pop production, outfitting her dissent in studio glimmer. The melody can be so sweet as to feel bubblegum, and when Boucher sings a bit like ’I will wait forever’—a line that always jumps out—’Oblivion’ starts to seem like a very different kind of lament.”
4. “40 Greatest Rock Documentaries.” Burning guitars, big suits, meeting the Beatles—the concert films and rockumentaries that stand head and shoulders above the rest
“The movies started flirting with what would be called ’rock & roll’ from the very beginning, slapping Bill Haley and the Comets’ ’Rock Around the Clock’ onto a scene in the juvenile-delinquent drama The Blackboard Jungle (1955) and co-opting Elvis Presley’s proto-punk pout for the big screen as soon as they could. But there’s nothing like the real thing when it comes to seeing those historical musical moments, which is where documentaries come in: A number of nonfiction filmmakers saw the advantage of capturing these artists onstage, backstage or behind the scenes—partially for posterity, partially for plain old reportage and partially for the second-hand high of it all. So we’ve compiled the 40 greatest rock documentaries, or ’rockumentaries,’ of all time—the concert films, fly-on-the-wall tour chronicles, artist portraits and cinematic punk and hip-hop cultural surveys that have set the standard and still stand out. (If the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognizes something under its banner, then it made our cut—hence the inclusion of hip-hop docs but no jazz or world-music docs. Very sorry, Buena Vista Social Club, we still love you.) Play this list loud.”
5. “What Hurt Feelings: The Untold Story of the 31-Year Battle Over Flashdance.” The dancers and photographer who inspired one of the biggest pop culture touchstones of a generation have gone most of their lives unable to publicly talk about the credit they think they deserve. Until now.
“Gene Mascardelli, who worked as Myron Zabol’s personal manager in the late ’80s, thinks Flashdance’s protagonist is a hybrid of ’Maureen’s backstory as a welder and Gina’s unique and original Flashdance style.’ Ex-dancer Ann Stirling concurs. ’I think they kind of got the feel of what Gina did and who Maureen was,’ she says. ’There were definitely some things from Gina’s show that were part of Jennifer Beals’ dance.’ She cites Flashdance’s famous warm-up scene in particular, in which Alex (Beals), shower fresh, dives into a very wet workout to Michael Sembello’s ’Maniac’: ’The twirls, head movements, and also the running on the spot.’ But Hedley denies Flashdance is based on Healey or Marder or anyone else from Gimlets. ’There’s no part of their stories that’s in the film,’ he tells me. Though he admits to having spoken to Healey on the phone, he can’t remember discussing the film with her. ’She was around at the very early stages and she was a real inspiration for me as I built the idea, but none of their stuff ended up in the film,’ he says, referring to the Gimlets dancers as a collective. Hedley regularly parses like this while discussing the movie. He uses words like ’inspiration’ and ’influence’ and ’composite,’ but, when it comes to the Flashdance script, he never assigns unequivocal credit to anyone but himself.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows starring Elijah Wood:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.